On my first day at the United States Mission to the United Nations (USUN), a Regional Security Officer later told me he thought I looked “terrified.” As much as I tried to hide my nervousness on that first day, I had no idea what my summer in a new city would hold for me. As I exit the Mission ten weeks later, I know that I leave with more knowledge about political reform and public policy, professional skills, as well as personal confidence that have exceeded my expectations for this summer.
In helping with projects bigger than myself and providing support in the offices I worked in, I gained a better understanding of the meaning of teamwork and communication. I learned when to listen and apply knowledge from coworkers, but also when to step in with suggestions. It was challenging navigating how the Mission fit into the bigger system of the State Department and the United Nations, and being surrounded by important and successful diplomats was certainly intimidating, but also incredibly inspiring.
I gained a better understanding of the various career paths I can take as someone interested in international relations, and global health and development. Through weekly brown bag lunches with political officers, deputy heads of sections, and even an ambassador, I heard about diverse backgrounds that have led to successful careers at the State Department and at the Mission.
My advice to those who are studying International and Global Studies (IGS) is to be open-minded in your opportunities. Find what you are passionate about and work towards a career doing exactly that. In trial and error and in figuring out what you don’t want to do, you can figure out what exactly it is you do want to do.
I am most proud of the independence that I have gained this summer. Living and working on my own in New York City brought on many new challenges that my small town in Arnold, Maryland certainly didn’t prepare me for. Whether it was navigating the subway system, learning how to network at events and meetings, or simply making sure I had enough food in my fridge for the next day’s lunch, I have definitely gained professional and personal life skills that I will take with me back to Brandeis.
As I finish up my last few days at the US Mission the UN, walking through the United Nations “Delegates Entrance” has become bittersweet. The functions of the UN that I have studied huddled under a textbook have come to life in multilateral negotiations at the General Assembly and Security Council, and I will certainly miss being surrounded by so many inspiring individuals who I can learn from. I hope to keep the relationships I have made in New York, and I hope to return soon. I am very grateful for the opportunity to have interned at the United States Mission to the United Nations, which I know would not have been possible without the WOW fellowship, and I am eager to see what the future has in store.
P.S. The Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Jonathan Cohen’s parents went to Brandeis! You never know who you will meet along the way!